New Teachers Become Educators through Alternative Certification Program

July 11, 2012

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Former scientists, lawyers and journalists are heading into classrooms across the state but it’s not for your bring your parent to school day.  They’re stepping into the classroom as part of the Transition to Teaching program.

Seventeen certified teachers were recognized as the newest graduates of the Transition to Teaching program during a ceremony prior to the West Virginia Board of Education meeting on July 11.

The alternative certification program has placed 103 teachers in public schools in 24 counties since 2008. The program is designed to address West Virginia’s teacher shortages in high need areas including math, science, English, foreign language and special education in 26 designated high needs counties.

“West Virginia has many highly experienced teachers, who will be difficult to replace as more and more of them retire. Alternative teacher certification is one way to address the issue,” West Virginia Superintendent of Schools Jorea Marple said. “The Transition to Teaching program is a unique way for individuals to make the career jump to teaching and help bring excellent education to all West Virginia students.”

The West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) launched the Transition to Teaching program to attract new teachers to the classroom through alternative certification. The program is a collaborative effort between the WVDE and Marshall and West Virginia universities. Participants must already have a bachelor’s degree, must pass the Praxis I exam and commit three years to the project.

With about a quarter of West Virginia’s 24,000 educators now eligible for retirement, programs that offer alternative routes to certification are important to attracting new teachers. Alternative certification is attractive to those who have a college degree and have been successful in their careers but want to change jobs or their lifestyle. A significant number of participants in the Transition to Teaching program once worked as engineers, chemists, physicists, meteorologists and paramedics.

During the first year, participants complete 18 hours of online graduate work in pedagogy while performing the day-to-day duties of a classroom teacher. The second year, participants complete content specific and instructional strategy enhancing courses through WVDE's e-Learning classes. Year three, participants complete two more e-Learning classes  -- one to introduce them to the process of National Board Certification; the other to give them real-world, classroom application of completing a portfolio entry for National Board Certification. Each participant also is assigned to an academic coach.

For more information, contact the WVDE Communication Office at 304-558-2699. 

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